Emily has spent most of her life here in Pennsylvania, but her childhood was spent in New Mexico. “My mother was the person to first expose me to the world of gardening. With a seemingly constant season of drought, we were restricted to watering once a week. I recall taking showers with a bucket to catch any spare water to help my mother’s struggling vegetable garden.”
Emily’s family moved to Pennsylvania when she was 10 years old. “The first time I saw Pennsylvania, the juxtaposition of the desert landscape with the lush greenery of the east coast is still a striking memory for me,” she says. “My mother of course took advantage of the rainfall and constructed a few large raised beds. This garden today is still in full production, growing pretty much anything imaginable. My favorite part of her garden is the raspberry patch, which generally gets overgrown but gives endless raspberries.”
Emily has a BS in Nutrition and Dietetics and an MA in Food Studies. "Admittedly, and a little regrettably, I was not interested in growing food until I got to college. My friends worked on a small farm, so I volunteered there mostly just to hang out. I was caught off guard by my sudden and significant interest in farming. While I always appreciated learning about food from a strong scientific perspective during my Nutrition studies, farming and its surrounding culture felt like a less institutional and more tangible side of food to me," she admits.
But it was Emily's continued education in Food Studies that allowed her to gain a deeper appreciation for local food systems, along with a deeper understanding of its complexities. "The program was designed with a well-rounded approach to examining our food system," she says. "In terms of agriculture specifically, a highlight for me was diving into the subject of agroecology and how to create an agricultural system that works with nature, not against it. So, excluding harmful chemical inputs, encouraging biodiversity, building quality soil with biomass, etc."
Life After College
Prior to CVO, Emily coordinated the food and horticulture area of a psychiatric rehab center in Pittsburgh. "I got a lot of hands-on growing experiences there because I managed a sizeable raised bed urban garden," she notes. "Previous to that, I've generally worked with food in a variety of ways such as retail and vending at farmer’s markets."
Emily's Role at CVO
At the moment, Emily is growing vegetables and is excited to see what the 2022 season brings. Working closely with the seasons, growing nutritious food, and connecting to the local community are aspects of the job that she enjoys the most. “The more time and experience I have with growing vegetables, the more I recognize that there is so much more to learn. I’m constantly striving to learning more nuances of vegetable production.”
While growing veggies is the main role of the job, she also wears another hat as the Farm Partner coordinator. She loves connecting CVO customers with other farms and making eating local foods easy and convenient. She notes that “there are many Pennsylvania producers that create premium products that are too good not to share and promote with our customers. At the end of the day, I can feel like I’m doing my part in supporting our local/regional economy.”
What Local and Organic Mean to Emily
“I heard a statistic recently stating that less than 10% of the farming industry is organic, which I found to be striking,” Emily notes. “I think this statistic speaks to the fact that utilizing organic farming methods is certainly not easy. We need to collectively appreciate the work and dedication that goes into food production, and more specifically, production that aims to work more harmoniously with the natural environment. All of the organic farmers I know care that the food they grow supports a healthy ecosystem and healthy people. So, instead of saying that organic food is expensive, maybe we can instead notice that organic food is important.”
Emily often finds herself thinking about resiliency and how our society can move forward in the best way possible. Growing organically certainly fits into the picture, as does supporting organic food producers who put their heart and soul into their work.
Thank you as always for your support!!
The Cherry Valley Organics Farm Family